The Philomath High School baseball team opened Oregon West Conference play on Thursday by sweeping a twinbill at Sweet Home, 9-8 and 22-11.
The Warriors (7-3 overall, 2-0 Oregon West) are scheduled to wrap up the three-game series against the Huskies on Philomath High’s Terry Stephenson Field at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Philomath needed late-game heroics to get out of the first game with a victory. Freshman Caleb Babcock came up with a clutch hit in the seventh inning with a two-run double to give the Warriors an 8-7 lead and then scored himself when teammate Mason Stearns reached on an error.
The insurance run turned out to be the game winner. Sweet Home loaded the bases with no outs on singles by Kaden Zajic and Jon Holly and when Kelso Ellis was hit by a pitch. At that point in the game, coach Levi Webber brought in Stearns to see if he could get the save.
Stearns struck out the first batter he faced but the Huskies were able to score a run moments later on a wild pitch. With two base runners still aboard, the Warriors recorded the second out on a pop-up to shortstop Logan Matthews. Sweet Home’s Daniel Goodwin worked a walk to again load the bases and the Huskies had the top of their lineup coming up. The game ended on a pop-up to third baseman Kash Lindsey in foul territory.
Stearns threw 20 pitches in the late-game relief appearance to earn the save. Brayden Shenk started and in five innings of work allowed five hits, three earned runs and two walks while striking out eight. David Griffith and Lindsey also had time on the mound.
Offensively, Babcock was the lone PHS player to have more than one hit by going 2 for 4 with two RBIs. Grant Niemann and Chad Russell had a two-out, two-run singles in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
Ellis led the Huskies (0-8, 0-2) with a 2-for-3 effort.
In the nightcap, the Warriors broke open a 3-3 tie with five runs in the fourth and six runs in the fifth to take a 14-3 lead into the bottom of the fifth. The Huskies avoided a mercy rule loss by scoring four runs but Philomath came right back with five of its own for a 19-7 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
Again, Sweet Home avoided being run-ruled and picked up four more runs to cut its deficit to eight. The Warriors scored three in the top of the seventh and the Huskies went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half for the victory.
Philomath collected 10 hits in the win and showed exceptional patience at the plate by walking 20 times. Stearns had a huge game by going 4 for 6 with a pair of doubles, three RBIs and five runs scored. Pittman came off the bench and hit a bases-loaded triple in the seventh. Russell drove in three runs and Matthews had two RBIs and scored four runs.
On the mound, Stearns struck out five and walked none in a five-hit performance over 3-2/3 innings. Lindsey and Ty May made relief appearances.
Casey Valloni went 4 for 4 with three doubles and three RBIs and Holly hit a three-run home run and overall drove in four to lead the Huskies at the plate.